OREGON – Three years ago, Angela Warner had to use a wheelchair because of her bad hips, and nearly was blind from cataracts in both eyes.
As she walked to the stage Wednesday to receive the Robert Moehle Personal Achievement Award, evidence of those ailments was long gone.
Tom Wadsworth summarized her progress in a few simple words: "She looks like a new woman!"
"Me?!" she replied.
"Yes, you!," he retorted.
Warner was one of 11 award winners recognized at the 49th annual Village of Progress awards banquet.
As Wadsworth presented her with her plaque, the nearly 300 people at St. Mary's Learning Center erupted in applause.
"Angela has endured a lot of changes in the past 4 years, and she has conquered every one of them," he said.
Warner moved into the village's Hammer Terrace from a nursing home in Rockford in April 2014. Since eye and hip surgeries between 2015 and '17, she's been able to work on Wahl Clipper, play games and constantly be on the move.
Moehle, for whom the ward is named, was a member of the VOP board of directors for 36 years, starting in year one; he was the longest-serving board member in its history.
The award is given to those who enrolled in the village's developmental training program and, in spite of obstacles, exhibited persistence and a willingness to succeed.
The other 10 awards and their winners are:
John Herrmann Distinguished Improvement Award
The VOP first met Jim Lowe in 1982 when he was 19 while living with his family in Rochelle. He moved to the village in 1988 and has performed many jobs over the years. His supervisors say Lowe has a great sense of humor and is polite to everyone.
When asked about his ideal day at the village, he responded "Trying all the jobs!"
Janie Etnyre, Volunteer of the Year
Scott and Joyce Stephens have been involved with the VOP bicycling fundraiser since its early stages in 2015. With their help, the Tour of Scenic Ogle County has attracted more than 300 riders a year from around the Midwest, and has raised more than $35,000 for the Village of Progress Foundation.
Fred Smith Competitive Employment Award
John Miller has been part of the VOP family since his childhood, when it opened in 1969 and he was enrolled in the day care center. Over the years he has accomplished a wide variety of jobs, serving the community and working at the Village Cleaning Service at the Oregon Coliseum.
Caryl Heller Special Olympian of the Year
Carla Grove also began attending the village in 1996, and now works in the developmental training department, where she is responsible for a variety of in-house jobs and is known as the in-house secretary.
Rick Hahn Business of the year Award
Since 1988, KSB Hospital in Dixon has supported the village, especially since 2010, when it played an integral role in supporting many of the village's activities that promote a healthy lifestyle, by sponsoring the annual golf play day and the Tour of Scenic Ogle County bicycle fundraiser, among other things.
Robert Stahl Friendship Award
Kelli Nichols enrolled in 2008 as one of the students in the VOP's transition program with the schools. She has been a friendly greeter to many newcomers, helping them become familiar with the routines and inviting everyone to join her at lunch and on breaks.
Robert Stouffer Special Recognition Award
Larry Young & Friends Charities is made up of individuals in the business and sporting worlds. Since 2000, the group has and the VOP Foundation have raised more than $200,000 through the annual John Herrmann Golf Play Day.
Village of Progress Foundation scholarships
Applicants must be Ogle County residents in their senior year in high school or full-time college student, and must have a disability, or be majoring in an area related to the field. This year's recipients are:
Aubrey Headon, a senior at Rochelle Township High School who has maintained a 3.9 GPA, has cerebral palsy, is a paralympic All American athlete in track and field, holds three state titles for swimmers with disabilities and is on the Rockford Chariots wheelchair basketball team. She also has raised money for combat veterans. Aubrey will study physical therapy in college.
Brandi Ferrari, also a Rochelle Township High senior who plans to attend Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, is dyslexic. She is involved in softball and track and field and has participated in Key Club and student council. She also volunteers at Rochelle Township Library.
Arynn Mathieu, a senior at Byron High School, and has achieved a 4.12 GPA while also managing dyslexia and generalized anxiety disorder. She plans to explore therapeutic recreation and recreational therapy in college.